Tag Archives: JEI

Ink Link: Change Font, Save $400 Million

Screen shot 2014-03-30 at 11.11.56 AM I’m excited about the paper published by 14-year-old Suvir Mirchandani by the Journal of Emerging Investigators. He is a Pennsylvania high school student who concluded his science research project can help reduce the national deficit in a big way.

The takeaway from his paper, “A Simple Printing Solution to Aid Deficit Reduction,” is this:

“Dear United States: I can save you $400 million.”

For Suvir, it began with a study of how his school might save money on printing costs. Rather than the usual tree-hugging approach, by reducing paper use, Suvir analyzed the cost-savings for ink with a simple idea: change the font. He concluded that by switching to Garamond, a lighter thinner font, the school would save 24 percent on ink, or $21,000, which is like a small pot of gold for any school.

His teacher, recognizing the kid was on to something, suggested he publish his findings in the JEI, an open-access journal founded by a group of Harvard grads.

Suvir’s ink link project was published March 10, 2014 and, within two weeks, was making international news.

During a recent CNN interview, Suvir delivered a priceless and savvy talking point, that printer ink is twice as expensive as French perfume, a statement verified by CNN. Chanel No. 5 perfume costs $38 per ounce. Hewlett-Packard printer ink can cost up to $75 per ounce.

Ooh, la la.

Suvir also concluded that there would be  indirect environmental benefits – lower ink production and disposal volumes, and reduced paper use.

He extrapolated that if the federal government followed suit it could reduce the $1.8 billion 2014 printing budget by $136 million. If state governments switched fonts, the total annual savings to our U.S. government this year would be an additional estimated $234 million, depending on how wordy their printed documents.

A federal government spokesman, although non-committal about embracing change, called Suvir’s study “remarkable.”

I love this story for many reasons.

First, I love the power of education, and science projects gone viral.

Also, as one who has seen the newspaper industry shrink in part due to increasing production costs for ink and paper, I respect this young scientist’s approach to cost analysis.  Keep it simple. He’s not only done the math, he’s considered the vehicle by which our government communicates with we, the people.

It’s practical. It allows for the fact that while the Internet is used by about 75 percent of U.S. households, we still like to have something to hold on to (or file away, or send to our tax man, or frame for posterity).

Never mind that our country’s heavily-inked historical documents are in jeopardy of fading into oblivion due to the unintended side effects of time, wear, tear, temperature and light on old paper and organic ink.

As someone who has embraced the delivery of information via the Internet and virtual paper and ink, I am admittedly still a fan of the printed word.

It’s a necessary evil, and I have the paper piles to prove it.

Schools,  government entities, news and information outlets, and businesses will continue to print material.  Embracing the notion that there might be a better way and seeking simple solutions, like a simple font change, reminds me that change is good, especially when you are mindful of how you dot your “I” cross your “T” and count your pennies.